May 5th, 2010
10:30 AM ET

Immigration takes center court at Suns-Spurs playoffs

The Phoenix Suns will once again don their "Los Suns" jersey -- this time in response to Arizona's new immigration law.

It’s not often point guards and power forwards partake in politics.

Responding to a recently passed immigration policy in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns will take the court Wednesday in jerseys bearing their name in Spanish.

Robert Sarver, owner of “Los Suns,” said his team will wear the jerseys during Game Two of its playoff matchup with the San Antonio Spurs, which falls on the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo.

“We are proud that 400 players from 36 countries compete in the NBA, and the league and the Suns have always considered that to be a great strength of the NBA,” he said in a statement.

The move was designed, in part, to honor Phoenix’s Latino community, Sarver said.

The Suns also have a Latin-born player, guard Leandro Barbosa of Brazil. He is one of the NBA’s 18 players from Latin America. Hispanics compose about 15 percent of the NBA’s market, according to the league.

The new immigration law, which goes into effect in August, allows police in Arizona to demand proof of residency. Critics say the law encourages racial profiling. Proponents say it’s a necessary response to stem the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into the state.

The Suns’ protest was roundly supported by NBA players and officials, according to an report.

NBA Commissioner David Stern called the move “appropriate.” The NBA Players Association also praised the protest as NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter called the immigration law “offensive and incompatible with the basic notions of fairness and equal protection.”

Added star point guard Steve Nash: “Obviously the passing of the recent bill and what that means to our state, to civil liberties, and the quality and precedent it’s setting, and message it sends to our youngsters in the community, we have a problem with that. It's great that our owner took the initiative and our players are behind him.”

In an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Dan Patrick, the always outspoken Charles Barkley said the immigration law offended him, both as an African-American and as a resident of Arizona. He suggested the policy was merely a political ploy.

“Most of those immigrants here are busting their hump, doing a great job, and to go after them every couple of years because you want to raise hell doing something to get re-elected, that’s disrespectful and disgusting,” he said.

Despite that the Spurs will do battle with the Suns at 8 p.m. ET, at least one San Antonio player was able to find solidarity with his rivals.

Argentina-born guard Manu Ginobili said he hopes Arizona can find another way to deal with its immigration woes.

“I hope they change [the law] back to what it was and give the workers the possibility to be legal and pay taxes as everyone else,” he told

Wednesday won’t be the first time the NBA has honored the Latino community. In March, the league held Noche Latina (Latin Night), with Los Lakers, the Knicks of Nueva York, Miami’s El Heat and Dallas’ Los Mavs among nine teams wearing Spanish-language jerseys.

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Filed under: Immigration • Sports
soundoff (1,270 Responses)
  1. oscar f

    Happy May 5th everyone !! My comment is as follows: if they went through the trouble of changing the name of the jerseys why not do it all the way. That is LOS SOLES instead of LOS SUNS. I'm sorry, but SUN is not Spanish for SUN ... I'm just saying ...

    May 5, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      I wouldn't have played if I were on that team if forced to wear that jersey.

      May 18, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  2. Misterbanks

    Because "Suns" in this context is a proper name, not the word sun. Therefore Los Suns is the correct and is also what most people call it in Spanglish.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tesch

    @oscar – Suns is the name of the organization, therefore it is a proper noun. Just like the name Bob in english is Bob and is Bob in spanish.

    So all the residents of AZ that SUPPORT the immigration legislation, show your support by not going to the game! Wonder what would be more impactful....a cute jersey or a half empty stadium?

    May 5, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chris

    Once again people trying to use their star status to influence others to follow their beliefs. Pathetic that a playoff team would resort to pushing politics onto the basketball court. Keep your opinions about politics in the voting box. These athletes aren't being paid to spout their agenda on national TV.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. CJ

    To Manu: changing the law back doesn't really change anything- illegal immigrants would, gasp, STILL be ILLEGAL!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  6. chris

    well i don't think any of the suns players have to deal with illegals in their mansions and what not. maybe their maid's brothers or sisters are illegals. too bad they don't have to put up with them. must be nice to call everyone else big ole meanny poo poo pants when you have the $$$ to live no where near those people.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      I live in dodge city ks. Population is 50% hispanic. I donot mind living next to this people at all. Infact my county was just ranked #1 least stressed county in the nation. As a small business owner I know our success is largely due to the hard work and business this people bring. If people remove racism from their towns an minds our nation an economy would thrive, we are a small example. An I don't want to here about the drug war spilling over because we are the reason of that war an hundreds of mexicans die every month because our addiction, hopefully not many American lives will be lost before we finally due something about it.

      May 5, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. TriumPatriot

    Where are their protests when a farmer is killed by an illegal immigrant? When our borders are unsecured? When American citizens are gunned down by the cartels?

    I bet the players haven't even read the SB1070 law.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  8. Robert

    Hey, I say – if you are for the law, boycott the Suns or Soles.....if you support them – your choice. These are the same people who would be an advocate for boycotting – lets see how they would like the same done to them.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Amos

    Mr, McLaughlin:
    "Responding to a recently passed immigration policy in Arizona, the Phoenix Suns will take the court Wednesday in jerseys bearing their name in Spanish."
    I just want to educate you and let you know that the word "Sun" is not of Spanish origin. Therefore you referring to The Suns as "Los Suns" as the name of this team in Spanish (your interpretation of Spanish) is not only incorrect but also moronic.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. Tea

    I encourage all Suns fans tonight to storm the turnstiles, refuse to show their tickets and grab everything they can-food, drinks, merchandise, then go and sit in the skyboxes and refuse to leave. If Sarver thinks that laws are meant to be followed only some of the time, then Suns fans should protest the outrageous prices for jerseys and a beer by not paying it.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  11. vignesh

    Hey they have a right to free speech too.....just because they disagree with you and a larger amount of people are influenced by them does not mean they can't voice their opinion.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • erkme

      I've said it before, The WEALTHY do not see the problem of ILLEGALS, It does not affect them at all! Until it affects them nothing will be done! The government gives money to ILLEGALS for ANCHOR BABIES, and gives them welfare to stay home on their sorry lazy @55es!! And you don't pay TAXES if your ILLEGAL, because you don't have a S.S.N. I saw a reporter asking a ILLEGAL in a Southwest Texas ER. Ward after see gave birth and she said she came here "JUST TO GIVE BIRTH" AND HAVE IT PAID FOR WITH MY TAX MONEY!! That cost $4600.00.Of couse the weathy don't see that stuff going on in their neighborhood. Go cry in your tegullia!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. AmericanD

    Good call, Oscar!
    It's already pretty obvious given the criminal backgrounds of the vast majority of NBA players that they would have absolutely no concern for the laws of this country.
    If you're here illegally, just leave. You are a criminal, you are breaking Federal AND (if in Arizona) state laws.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  13. Dorothy Lochert

    We are disappointed in the Suns, especiallly Steve Nash. Politics and sports do not mix. Steve Nash and all the Suns players should be supporting Arizona and Gov. Jan Brewer for finally having the integrity and strength to protect our borders.
    Arizona took the responsibility because the Federal Govt. would not. Someone had to take a stand and I am proud of Arizona and Jan Brewer for taking on the challenge.

    Signed Ex Suns Fans Go Spurs!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Disgusting! Are they planning on French, German, Italian, Korean and Chinese jerseys as well? How come only the Latino community gets support like this? I will never watch another Suns game again.

    May 5, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. j adams

    What a bunch of misinformed people! READ THE LAW!

    May 5, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
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